I’m pleased to announce the publication of my very first book, which is a collection of short stories centered around my hometown in the Midwest. The stories deal with economic and cultural decline in post-industrial America, as well as questions of spiritual and social values within that milieu. It is also a nostalgic look back at childhood in the 80s and 90s, before social media and the internet, before the millennium, but still long after the good times had ceased to roll – for the people in my town, anyway. The book is called Paradise Theater, and was named after my favorite movie house, which used to show old monster movies like Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Blob, and The Wolf Man for 99 cents when I was a kid.
From a 5-star Amazon.com review:
“America, please welcome a powerful new voice! Jack Ravenwood’s writing evokes the subtle penetrations of a John Fante or Barry Hannah and, much like these two underground Titans of the short story form, he works from a time and place no longer HERE, but not exactly GONE. We know the people Ravenwood writes about – their familial deconstructions, their melancholy drift through lives affected by outside circumstances (“Where did the factories go, Pa??”). For many of America’s factory-towns (I eschew the term “RUST BELT”) the end of America’s post WWII “Golden Age” meant decades of back-sliding away from once standard expectations: a job, enough income to live free of want, true human connections etc… The stories that make up this astonishing debut tracks the era’s trajectory from the POV residents of West Allis, WI where manufacturing and self-worth are intertwined, where diversion is the reaction to decline and where the future can’t be counted on. Moving, insightful and sometimes heartbreaking PARADISE THEATER bridges the micro/macro aspects of City life and deserves to be on your (PHYSICAL!) book shelf alongside Donald Ray Pollock and Frank Bill. It’s that good. Believe it.”
You can read the Introduction to Paradise Theater over at Little Ape Press.